Winton-based producer Roger Henwood is no stranger to the Australian Topstock Barcaldine Sale where he purchased 40 bulls last year to help diversify the bloodlines running through the family’s pure Angus herd.
Roger and his family call Aldingham Station home, but due to the severe dry conditions, most of the cattle involved in their operation, have either been put on agistment or sent to the 40,470ha family-owned Howlong Station, in Carrathool, NSW.
At Howlong, Mr Henwood runs a large commercial herd with close to 3000 Angus breeders, from which the progeny are sold directly into the feedlot market.
“We’ve run good Hereford and Brahman herds in the past, but we’ve been breeding Angus for close to 30 years now,” Roger said.
“We don’t cross them with anything else, they taste good, and we find that they’re easier to market,” he said.
Roger said while they usually sell their feeder steers into the feedlots, the breed provides him with the flexibility to sell into whichever market is offering the best prices at any given time.
“Some years, if we know we’re not going to have the season to get them up to 450kgs, we’ll sell our weaners through AuctionsPlus.”
Roger said they’d mainly purchased Te Mania Angus bulls for several years, which is what led him to attending the Barcaldine sale.
“We saw bulls being catalogued for the sale, particularly from the Moyle family at Pathfinder Angus which were sons of some Te Mania sires we really like.”
It was due to the dry that Roger returned to the Barcaldine Sale, where he’d purchased the equal top price bull, Pathfinder Genesis L583 at the 2017 sale.
“As most of the area was droughted last year, I thought I’d get them a bit cheaper.”
This ended up being the case as Roger ended up taking home two decks of bulls, representing great value for money buying, with the majority of the 40 bulls purchased post-sale.
He said he looks for bulls with heavy fat cover at sale time.
“Due to the dry, the bulls can lose their condition quite quickly, so we need that positive fat cover to start with so we can get as many calves from them as we can, as quickly as possible.”
He said the bulls purchased at the sale last year were put in with a mob of heifers and have performed well with calves starting to drop now.
At Aldingham, Roger said there’s no grass left on the ground as their last good wet season was in 2016.
“At present we’re hand-feeding the cattle at Aldingham with hay and molasses to keep them going, it’s pretty bad here, though we did get a few showers last week, so hopefully further rain will follow.”